In The Spotlight With Neil Schneider, Chief Executive Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council
Tell Us About Your Role At Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
Very few people know what we as a council really do. The council is actually the second largest employer in the area with over 3,000 employees. We provide over 140 different services which include collecting people’s rubbish, maintaining roads and open spaces, and regenerating the Borough right through to the upkeep of the libraries and leisure centres, supporting business and schools, preventing ill health, providing adult social care, keeping vulnerable people safe and so on…
One of our most important jobs is the management of adult social care and children’s services. Projections show that by 2035 there will be a 185% increase in the number of people over the age of 85. There are currently 462 children in care. These are big pressures for a council to manage and it is critical that we manage them well.
From a corporate perspective we manage planning applications, business rates, council tax, private landlord inspections…the list is endless.
We also work closely and collaboratively with the other Tees Valley councils and we share our experiences so that we can learn and improve.
As Chief Executive, I’m accountable to our 56 elected councillors for the overall management of all of these things.
It’s important that we maximise our resources and use them wisely. With every passing year we have to become more creative and innovative and business minded to deliver our ambitions and one of the ways we are doing so is through collaboration with local business on a variety of projects.
What Is Your Vision For Stockton-on-Tees?
There is a shared ambition within the council for Stockton-on-Tees to be a better place and fairer to live, work and spend leisure time. I want us all to be ambassadors of the Borough and be proud to serve our community.
What Are The Biggest Challenges For The Authority?
Two things spring immediately to mind:
- Protecting the young, the old and the vulnerable.
- Transitioning from a traditional municipal organisation to one that is more sustainable and at the forefront of place shaping.
What Are Your Biggest Achievements With The Authority?
Top of the list is always the development of people to ensure we have a committed, skilled and motivated workforce. We have regular employee surveys and place great emphasis on making sure we don’t simply listen to our workforce, but actually act on what our people are telling us. This is resulting in significant engagement and how we respond to that will be one of the determining factors in how we evolve. It’s very important to me that we create a culture of hard work and enjoyment, after all work is where we spend most of our life.
What Did You Want To Be When You Were At School?
I had absolutely no idea! There wasn’t much in the way of careers advice back in the day. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I might end up as a chief executive of a North East council.
What Was Your First Job?
I was a shelf stacker at a supermarket called Fine Fare - it hasn’t been around for many years now. I was also on the turnstiles at Ayresome Park. My first proper job when I left school was an apprentice in the housing department of another local council – Middlesbrough.
What Job Would You like To Have Other Than Your Own & Why?
I really, really wouldn’t like to do any other job but if you are forcing me to choose I’d like to be a real life ‘Petrocelli’. He was a defense lawyer in a 1970s American legal TV drama, so I guess that’s where I got that particular bug from. I could see myself as him if I wasn’t here!
What Do You Love Most About Working In Stockton-on-Tees?
I continue to relish the opportunity to shape the place I love. Although I was born in Middlesbrough I have lived and worked in Stockton for many years and being from Stockton is how I see myself. I’m very fortunate to enjoy what I do. The responsibility is enormous but I embrace that.
What Do You Love Most About Living In Stockton-on-Tees?
It’s a fantastic place. I want as many people as possible to know this. I look at the archive footage of over the last 30-40 years and I think to myself- ‘wow – look how far we’ve come!’ I love the history and heritage, the people. Everything is here for the foundation blocks of a great life but we don’t rest on our laurels. We have to keep evolving.
Also, if the traffic lights are all in my favour I can get from my home to my office in 4 minutes. Beat that for work/life balance!
What Do You Do In Your Downtime Away From The Office?
I’m never far away from work but that’s how I like it. I love walking the dogs in Ropner Park, which is one of our beautiful, local parks. I’m a lifelong Boro fan. My wife and I are also grandparents and our second grandchild is due very soon.
What’s Your Number One Piece Of Advice for Anyone Starting a Business in Stockton?
Always ask for help. If you don’t ask you don’t get. We need to know about you so we can try and help you succeed.
“He couldn’t let anything go without trying to sort it out.”
Would you like to take part in our 'In The Spotlight' series? If you think you stand out from the crowd please email us with the following information:
Your full name, the business or charity in which you are involved and why you would like to take part.
If selected we will be in touch to interview.